Last night Port Coquitlam City Council presented the final draft of the Master Transportation Plan (http://www.portcoquitlam.ca//mtp). The plan is to guide us over the next 30 – 40 years on how we move around Port Coquitlam, there will be 5 – 10 year reviews. To view the video of the overview of the plan and Council comments go to (you will have to turn up the volume when I speak – apparently I forgot to turn on my mic): http://portcoquitlam.ca.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=44&meta_id=2919
The plan is broken down into four categories – Walking, Cycling, Transit and Road Network. Currently 86% of all trips in the City are by car, the plan suggests reducing the auto trips to 75%, or increase trips by walking, riding or transit by 25%. As our population is planned to increase from the current 56,000 to 85,000 we will see more cars on the road, from the current 115,210 car trips per year to 152,000. I don’t believe an increase in this level of traffic is feasible, affordable or sustainable.
Port Coquitlam’s Vision is for a happy, vibrant, safe community of healthy engaged residents and thriving businesses supported by sustainable resources and services. In my opinion we need to move to a plan that suggests 40% of our community is walking, biking and taking transit daily in the next 30 years – over the next 30 years we are going to see significant change in gas prices, an aging population, affordability issues and overall climate change. If we really want to create a happy and vibrant city we cannot continue to build an auto oriented community – no community in the world has built themselves out of gridlock. I generally walk and ride my bike around PoCo, not only am I exercising but I am able to say hi to folks and have a conversation – I am not sure the last time I stopped to say hi to someone when I was driving. When I have to travel outside of Port Coquitlam I use the bus – generally the system works great. I realize that for some people to go to work the location is not an option to walk, ride or take transit, however, I believe if we provided a good system, more people would use an alternative mode of transportation.
I realize transit isn’t for everyone, however, when you look around the world, cities that have developed an excellent transit system the ridership is excellent. We need to set a direction for Translink, if we don’t create a clear future for our transit system, we will leave it to Translink, and I believe we need to take charge. Surrey is an excellent example – they are the ones leading the discussion about expanded Light Rail Transit, not Translink, and Surrey is gaining support from others to build this critical infrastructure.
Currently, in Port Coquitlam, 4% of all trips are on transit, the plan calls for an increase to 10% - my suggestion was 15%. I suggested the following goals:
95% of all Port Coquitlam Residents be within a 500metre walk of a bus stop
95% of all Port Coquitlam Residents be 15 minutes away from the Evergreen Line
To work with Translink to implement a Bus Rapid Transit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_rapid_transit) from the Evergreen Line to Maple Ridge
A walkable city creates opportunity for engaged residents and creates a safe and welcoming environment. Further, a walkable community will reduce traffic noise, speed and air pollution. There are many studies that proved a more walkable city results in increased land values (yes your read that right) (http://www.costar.com/uploadedFiles/JOSRE/JournalPdfs/02.23_43.pdf). Given that we are creating more densification in downtown and the northside of Port Coquitlam, I think we have real opportunities for improvement.
Currently 9% of all trips are by walking. The plan calls for an increase to 12% and I was suggesting a goal of 17%.
Many peoplewill comment that people will not ride their bike in the winter, there is too much rain. I can tell you as someone who rides their bike all year round, it is doable, as long as you dress for the weather and you have the proper end-of-trip facility at work. Amsterdam and other northern European Cities have very similar climates as we do and they are biking year round. Between 2008 and 2011, the City of Vancouver made some bold bike lane changes. Over that period they have increased the number of bike trips by 40%. In January 2011 in Vancouver they averaged 104,000 bike trips per month, granted in July it was 362,000 trips, but it demonstrates that if you provide the proper provisions some people will ride their bike instead of driving their car.
Currently we only have 1% of all trips taken by bike, the plan calls for an increase to 3%, my suggested goal is 8%. I suggested the following actions:
Target residents who work in Port Coquitlam – goal to have 50% of people who live and work in PoCo ride their bikes to and from work.
Make changes to the building code to force new buildings (office, industrial buildings) to have proper end-of-ride facilities, showers etc.
I agree that we need to ensure we are providing a complete road network and the recent plan calls for some important road improvements. However, there is one improvement that I am very concerned about and disagree with. The City of Coquitlam is contemplating building the Lincoln Crossing (which would connect Lincoln Ave in PoCo, cross the Coquitlam River at Lincoln and Shaughnessy) – according to our communications with Coquitlam, this project is at the top of their priority list. The plan suggests that Lincoln from Shaugnessy to Wellington would be widened to four lanes and then two lanes from Wellington to Coast Meridian. I am completely opposed to creating a four lane road along any part of Lincoln – I am concerned about the impact to our residents and the potential rat running through our community to accommodate Coquitlam Residents. I suggested that if Coquitlam is going to proceed to build the bridge (which is 100% a Coquitlam project), that Lincoln Road is a two lane road, with appropriate bike lanes and a pedestrian corridor. The bridge will help alleviate the pressure on Lougheed Hwy, which is good, however, we need to ensure that we don’t shift a four lane road into our neighbourhoods.
This was a tough final decision to oppose a major plan for the City; there have been many sleepless nights leading up to this decision. All along I have been stating my intentions and sharing my vision with City Council and staff.I hope that over time I will be able to influence the projects to create a Happy and Vibrant Port Coquitlam. If you have any questions about my position, please let me know.